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Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance may perhaps be a game that emphasizes action more than part-playing, but something project that contains Drizzt Do’Urden and the Companions of the Hall is going to finish up adding to the lore of the Forgotten Realms.
And world-developing and lore may just be the greatest strength of Tuque Games, the makers of Dark Alliance.
Tuque’s game launched to middling reviews in late June. I liked it more than most, and one of the factors I enjoyed it is the lore. The studio requires the story from The Crystal Shard (the very first Companions novel) and provides it what feels like a “lost chapter,” finishing off the evil artifact’s look in Icewind Dale. But very best of all, Dark Alliance gave Tuque and its publisher, Wizards of the Coast, to give iconic humanoids such as goblins and duergar a opportunity to show off their personalities, in a manner that does not usually come via in adventures such as Lost Mine of Phandelver or Out of the Abyss.
It also helped Tuque uncover a way to get one of the most intriguing archdevils into a video game: Levistus, the imprisoned lord of the icy layer of Stygia.
Shortly soon after launch, I interviewed Tuque Games head Jeff Hattem about the lore and world-developing about Dark Alliance. This is an edited transcript of our interview.
GamesBeat: The very first query comes from my kids about goblin: What does bofa shuk imply?
Jeff Hattem: It’s a pejorative, and I do not believe we would want to translate it for your kids.
The goblin language is fairly cool. We did a lot of work early on with the language developing for goblins. We worked with the people at Wizards. There was a lot of goblin language that had been accomplished in the world of Eberron. We type of leaned in on that a bit. Obviously, our goblins are these tribes from Icewind Dale, so we took a couple of liberties there. But that is the origins of exactly where we got some of the language there.
GamesBeat: Why did the goblins get their language, but the verbeeg, frost giants, and duergar do not?
Hattem: D&D is a neighborhood project that is been created for decades. Doing the complete world developing for all of the factions is a lot of work. We picked a couple of that have been more prevalent. As you play the game, goblins are rampant in the Dale. They’re in a lot of missions. We felt like they deserved a bit more in the language than most. But there’s other stuff. The giants, even the cultists. We played with some of the language development that is been accomplished at Wizards in the previous, extrapolated from there.
GamesBeat: What was the course of action like to get Wizards to sign off on telling a story in the Realms’ previous, thinking about that all its stories today take location in the present?
Hattem: We’re set about one hundred years ahead of the present, primarily due to the fact we wanted to set it about the characters in the Companions of the Hall and their timeline. Where we are is slightly soon after the events of the Crystal Shard. That’s why we decided to set it there. It also gave us a tiny bit of inventive license to extrapolate into regions that we felt have been intriguing for players in our game.
GamesBeat: Was it complicated to convince Wizards that this was a fantastic thought to go into the previous?
Hattem: No, I wouldn’t say it was complicated. They asked us some concerns about the intentionality of our inventive alternatives for the lore and the story. I would say that they gave us the mandate to be quite particular about what we have been developing. The tribes of goblins or the verbeeg or the frost giants or — what ever we would do for the game was about the characters for the game. It didn’t necessarily imply that all frost giants are like this. It’s these particular ones. That gave us the inventive license to be inventive and make them our personal.
Crystal clear motivations
GamesBeat: What drew you and your group to Crenshinibon?
Hattem: We went more toward the Companions of the Hall. That was what sucked me in, and the group. We went to Drizzt. I had vivid memories of him becoming quite gracious and speedy and zippy. Amazing choreographed combat scenes in the books. That’s what we wanted to capture and bring to life. And then Crenshinibon, on the flip side, was just a fantastic antagonist for Drizzt and the Companions. Without spoiling the books, while they’ve been out for decades, so I do not believe it is thought of a spoiler for so lots of years — Crenshinibon comes back and is ever-present in the world of “The Legend of Drizzt” books.
GamesBeat: What limits did Crenshinibon’s ultimate fate location on your development of the story?
Hattem: Crenshinibon gets defeated, but not destroyed, in the events of The Crystal Shard. As Crenshinibon tends to do, he waits and draws in more bearers to come in and claim — it is debatable no matter whether the wielder of Crenshinibon is definitely in charge, or if it is Crenshinibon that is in charge. Obviously I believe we know the answer with Akar Kessell, who tends to make a comeback in the game, which we had exciting carrying out. But we didn’t go as well far in the timeline of Crenshinibon.
Crenshinibon comes back later. Events with the thoughts flayers and the red dragon, we’re ahead of that timeline. So that didn’t location any limits.
GamesBeat: I’ve not been in a position to uncover references to the cult of Crenshinibon to any lore books or novels or articles. Was that your team’s creation?
Hattem: One-hundred %. That was from our group, one hundred %. We felt like it would be a fantastic addition to the lore and the world-developing, to have cultists that would worship Crenshinibon. They’re human, but they get corrupted by the energy of the Crystal Shard, which transforms their look into a semi-ghoulish figure with magical powers. They think that the way to capture the essence of the Crystal Shard is to bring back the greatest bearer of the Crystal Shard, Akar Kessell, who would have the energy to reclaim it. That’s why they — I do not want to spoil it for persons, but our game is an physical exercise in world developing and becoming correct to the world of D&D, as opposed to telling a beat-for-beat story. I guess we’re speaking about lore, so I can speak about lore. That’s their motivation.
GamesBeat: One issue I liked about exactly where the cult match in, you will hear these comments about how possibly the cult made a error bringing back Kessell, or why are they wasting time with him? I paid a lot of consideration to the stuff that would lead into combat, what the enemies have been saying. Was it intentional to attempt to have all these various races and factions working collectively in some methods, but they’re nevertheless sniping at every single other?
Hattem: Totally. That’s exactly where we get our title from, the Dark Alliance. It’s this semi-formal agreement involving all the monsters that are descending upon the Dale to claim the Crystal Shard. They forego their grievances so that the very best monster can claim the Shard for themselves. They do not trust every single other. They’re usually at every single other’s throats. I’m glad you paid consideration to the banter. There are tons and tons of lines of banter in the game. We decided that it was a much better automobile for our type of game, for players such as your self that want to get into the lore and hear what’s going on. If you spend consideration you can hear a lot from the monsters that are bantering, as opposed to cutting the flow of the action mid-combat to inform the story. But if you want to do it, you can take your time and listen in on what’s going on.
GamesBeat: It appears like the duergar are the most skeptical. Is that just component of their character, or was that more intentional as a world developing choice?
Hattem: It’s a fantastic query. I do not know. I believe that the duergar are a bit of a blank slate in the world developing of D&D. We took some liberties with them, for sure. They’re pitted mostly against dwarves. We wanted to give them their personal identity that is not usually antagonistic to dwarves. They have this greater objective. They’re all about enterprise, ideal? They do not have the flair that dwarves do. They’re not interested in ornate styles. It’s all industrial. It’s enterprise. That’s why, in the mission that showcases them, they’re singing a song although they’re mining the crystals, but it is not due to the fact they’re content singing a song. They’re not festive. It’s a rhythmic chant so they hold up the pace.
GamesBeat: Why consist of Levistus, the archdevil lord of Stygia in the Nine Hells?
Hattem: Levistus was a passion of mine to — I wanted to weave, to bridge the gap involving the Blood War, which is more present events in D&D than the previous. One hundred years is nothing at all in the timeline of archdevils. He’s been imprisoned in his ice pyramid for such a lengthy time. He’s been plotting and attempting to figure out a way to break out of that and go up the ranks — to go down the ranks, rather, and get back at — possibly get into Nessus at some point. He sees the Crystal Shard, which has immense heat capabilities to incinerate something in the Realms, and probably that is the important for him to break out of his ice prison.
GamesBeat: I like how you made that hyperlink, due to the fact the liches who developed Crenshinibon had it powered by the sun as an insult to fantastic creatures. Another hyperlink about Levistus that I didn’t very recognize was, is he the energy behind the cult, or is he just taking benefit of them?
Hattem: He is unquestionably a greater energy. The cultists are in his realm of influence, I would say.
GamesBeat: I’ve usually identified Levistus to be the most intriguing of all the archdevils. Here he is in his iceberg prison, attempting to plot. But the factors why he’s there have nothing at all to do with a energy grab like other archdevils, but more about cheating with various archdevils. What tends to make Levistus intriguing to you? It sounds like this was a individual passion for you.
Hattem: Levistus is definitely cool. I do not know if you have seen our DLC roadmap, but the last DLC that we have in our present set of DLCs planned is Echoes of the Blood War. If you are familiar with the Blood War, the devils and the demons are in this by no means-ending stalemate. Only one uncomplicated artifact, a highly effective artifact, could sway the tide of the Blood War. That’s what Levistus is soon after.
Why Levistus? I just believe it is a definitely cool — the infighting involving all the archdevils and how they want to go down the ranks and layers of Hell is intriguing to me. I gravitate toward the Blood War. But Levistus in certain, he’s type of the patron — he’s like your “get out of jail free” card. If you make a deal with him — if you are in a difficult spot, you can make a deal with Levistus, and he’ll get you out of that jam, but you will spend for it somehow. I usually believed quick-term achieve versus lengthy-term achieve — it is usually a quick-term versus lengthy-term issue.
I really feel personally — I’m going outdoors D&D for a bit, but I believe that in basic, in our everyday lives, we’re usually confronted by quick term achieve-versus-lengthy term achieve. Sometimes, the apparent selection in the quick term is not necessarily the very best course of action for the lengthy term. It’s usually a struggle. In game development we’re generating alternatives. We have dates and we have objectives. We’re generating quick term choices in some cases, but how does that effect the lengthy term? I’m going definitely meta ideal right here, but it is component of why I believe he’s super-intriguing.
Can’t support myself
GamesBeat: The goblins are type of silly, but what I see is not so substantially the silliness, but the truth that they cannot develop something that is not a mockery. I look at the tower that they have been generating. Was that your take? It wasn’t so substantially comedic, but more that they just cannot support themselves from corrupting what they’re carrying out?
Hattem: That’s entirely it. They just cannot support themselves. They have usually these grand styles, grand plans, but they usually just appear to come up quick. They get far, but they just do not have what it requires to cross that hump. They have booyahg booyahg booyahgs [goblin mages]. They’re just a exciting group of monsters to bring to life.
GamesBeat: At the similar time, you definitely place some work into their dialogue going into fights.
Hattem: For sure. Goblins have a tendency to be fodder monsters in a lot of games. Just generating straight-up negative monsters versus fantastic heroes, that is not super-intriguing from a lore-developing standpoint. There are various motivations that fall in this massive gray location involving negative and fantastic. That’s the location exactly where we wanted to discover what all of the monsters think and how we showcase them. We wanted to paint a image for these monsters obtaining rituals and various customs. That was a massive emphasis for us. The goblins are so prevalent in the game that we felt like we required to give them some added really like. They get a negative rap in most games. They’re more multidimensional right here.
GamesBeat: Going more than to the duergar, did the beholder use magic to dominate them, or did it use his energy, his influence, to coax the duergar to its side?
Hattem: It’s a mixture of the chardalyn crystals they’re mining and the beholder. The crystals have their personal corrupting powers, and so mining them — it is like mining asbestos. It gets the much better of you soon after a specific quantity of time. That weakens them to a point exactly where the beholder can have such a sturdy influence on them.
GamesBeat: How complicated was it to make the verbeeg really feel like a thing various than just a smaller sized hill giant?
Hattem: Super-complicated, due to the fact they’re a tiny bit associated to hill giants. You can look at the various editions of D&D and in some cases the verbeeg are not there any longer, and then you have hill giants alternatively. You see the evolution involving verbeeg and hill giants. But our verbeeg are various — our tribe of verbeeg, at least, they’re more hardened than the hill giants. If you notice, their skin is type of scruffed up. It’s got these grayish tones in it. We have been inspired by the skin of a walrus, to make their skins impermeable to the frosts of the north in Icewind Dale. They’re all about dwarves, all about dwarves. They really like consuming these tasty dwarves.
GamesBeat: One issue I believed was intriguing about them, once more, was the combat barks and dialogue. In this case they’re quite focused, but they’re also quite funny. Was that intentional?
Hattem: Yeah, entirely. Goblins and verbeeg have been more of the comic relief in the makeup of the monsters. When we chose which monsters to showcase for the game, we wanted a fantastic selection of various varieties of personalities. The levity that you will get with goblins is a stark contrast to the darker cultists. I guess you could say they have darker undertones. But yeah, entirely intentional.
GamesBeat: Whose thought was it to marry encounters with cultists with the verbeeg? Because these are difficult.
Hattem: Those are difficult, yeah. It was one of our level designers. They are difficult. The cultists have a lot of [area of effect] skills. Generally the verbeeg are one or two, in some cases 3 verbeeg, in a scrum. They have a lot of unblockable attacks, like the red outlined attacks they have. They have the harpoon spear, a entire bunch of stuff they can do. But yeah, they are difficult.
True to Drizzt?
GamesBeat: Moving on to Drizzt, exactly where are his typical introspective moments?
Hattem: Yeah, the introspection — that is a fantastic query, definitely. That subject is one that we struggled with earlier on in the project. It came down to understanding what type of game we have been generating. This game is not a Legend of Drizzt game. It’s a game that features the Companions of the Hall in an action setting. If it was a Legend of Drizzt game, then unquestionably, that would be a quite sturdy point that we would have to have to create.
We do have the introductions for every single of the missions exactly where Drizzt does his monologues. It’s not as introspective as the various components of the books exactly where, at specific moments, he has these introspective scenes. I share that point with you. Those moments are quite sturdy in the books and give you insight into the character. Probably some of the bits that make Drizzt such a well known character today have been these introspective moments exactly where he’s speaking about his hunter persona, attempting to push back his inner drow and remain correct to what he believes are his principles. One of these moments is when he talks about the Companions of the Hall, that he would be nothing at all with out them. That was one of the components exactly where we took inspiration for this game, when he’s speaking about Bruenor and Wulfgar and Catti-Brie and he describes them in fantastic detail. I overlook what book that was in, but that component exactly where he describes them — he’s fantastic, and he has all these accomplishments as the ranger that we know, but he wouldn’t have accomplished that with out his companions. That was component of the inspiration for the game.
GamesBeat: So you do not really feel like you are betraying the character by leaving that out.
Hattem: No, I do not believe we’re betraying Drizzt. I believe we brought to life his dexterity and his combat flair. D&D, the books of R.A. Salvatore, they’re their personal mediums, and they do what they do quite properly. As a video game we have various positive aspects and disadvantages compared to these mediums. Having introspective moments with Drizzt is a thing I do not believe you could get properly in a film or a Television show. You can get that the very best in a book, like the books of R.A. Salvatore. In the game it is a various focus. But I believe that the interstitials involving missions, if you listen to them from that angle, they’ll give you some insights into what he thinks is critical. But I hear what you are saying.
GamesBeat: Why pick the deep gnome Kartik as the merchant?
Jeff Hattem: I like the storyline of Drizzt with Belwar Dissengulp, that type of storyline. It’s a bit of an homage to Belwar to have Kartik there in the base camp. We’re set soon after the events of The Crystal Shard, and it is not a literal representation of what takes place in the books, but we do want to spend some homage to various components that are ahead of or soon after the timeline. For instance, Catti-Brie has the Seaspray cosmetic set she can get, and that is a reference to events that occur afterward. That’s the cause.
GamesBeat: Player feedback on the absence of Regis — are people sad about that? Or have persons just glossed more than it?
Jeff Hattem: Folks at the studio are sad about it. I’m sad about it. I would have loved to bring Regis to life. Where we set the game, soon after the events of The Crystal Shard — it moved about a bit in the timeline. When we began developing the game it was exactly where Regis is off and carrying out his personal issue. He’s not usually about. He’ll leave and come back. When we began developing the game, exactly where we set it, he was off. We wanted to spend homage to him with dialogue you get with the merchant. Regis is his idol and he usually talks about Regis. He’s usually asking the Companions, hey, have you seen Regis?
GameBeat: Did I see this ideal, that the duergar cannoneers have pipes in their mouths?
Jeff Hattem: They do, yeah. They do have pipes, and they use them to light their bombs, the duergar bombers. Good eye there.
GamesBeat: Another issue I believed was intriguing was that all the monsters are either humanoids or giants, with the exception of the beholder. You have no remorhaz or other creatures that live in the Dale. Was that intentional?
Jeff Hattem: It’s not intentional to omit them. We’re restricted a bit by the — D&D is so massive. There’s hundreds of monsters in the Monster Manual. We cannot bring in anything to the game. We had to make some alternatives. Remorhazes are certainly a staple of the Dale, and other creatures as properly. But who knows? In a future update we may perhaps bring out some more iconic monsters.
GamesBeat: So it wasn’t just a selection of limiting your self to beings with minds, due to the fact of the Crystal Shard?
Jeff Hattem: No, no. The events in the story guide exactly where it would make sense to place conflict and which type of monsters would want to descend and claim the Shard. We do have native monsters of Icewind Dale that wouldn’t necessarily be drawn to the Shard, like the remorhaz. But that could be intriguing. If you believe about it, Icewind, the white dragon, is not driven by the Crystal Shard, but he features as an antagonist in the game as properly, due to the fact that is her Dale. It’s her namesake.
GamesBeat: The lore about Kelvin’s Cairn becoming exactly where the frost giants rest, and the dungeon, the city, and crystals there, was that all Tuque, or was that created by an individual else at Wizards and you constructed on it?
Jeff Hattem: It wasn’t all me, myself. We had our narrative designer, Ryan Galleta, that was his infant, the entire Kelvin’s Cairn story, how it was flipped upside down, the thread with Utar in the lineage of Kelvin the Great himself, attempting to reclaim his energy. That was super exciting to create as properly.
GamesBeat: I liked that for the frost giants, who D&D mainly portrays as reavers, now have a motivation that goes beyond just attempting to get more highly effective by fighting.
Jeff Hattem: Yeah, I believe the Ordning is a lot of infighting involving giants, attempting to go up and down the ranks, but the frost giants are a quite proud group. They’re honorable. They’re not just energy hungry mindless giants. It’s like that with most monster factions. We attempted to bring that to the forefront in the interstitials. Frost giants have been super exciting. Kelvin the Great, we go inside Kelvin’s Cairn, which is type of the upside down flipped mountain, that was super cool to construct.
GamesBeat: Of the narrative alternatives you had to reduce, what’s a thing that you left out from the story that you want you could have gotten in?
Jeff Hattem: We did have the storyline that furthered — I do not want to spoil stuff that is coming up. But we did have a storyline that we required to get rid of earlier on in development, when we wanted to focus on other monsters. It went deeper into the layers of Hell. That’s a thing that was type of disappointing to not be in a position to get into the game. We have been inventing a new character that was sort of serving Levistus in a lieutenant way that was definitely cool. Maybe in a future update we’ll get there.